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date: 22 August 2019


  • Amanda Villepastour


Double-headed cylindrical drum of the Yorùbá people of Nigeria. One or both skins have snares and one head is struck with a curved stick held by the right hand while the left hand presses on the other skin to regulate the tone. The largest bẹ̀m̀bẹ́ ensembles comprise the ìyáàlù (‘mother drum’) lead instrument, accompanied by the atẹ̣̀lé (‘the one that follows’) and the hourglass drums related to the dùndún ensemble, the kẹríkẹrì, ìṣáájù, and gúdúgúdú. The agogo bell and ṣẹkẹ-ṣẹkẹ or ṣẹ̀kẹ̀rẹ̀ rattles may be added. In palace orchestras, a kàkàkí (long trumpet adopted from the Hausa) may be added. Yorùbá bẹ̀m̀bẹ́ drums were likely adapted from the Hausa gàngaa, a double-headed cylindrical snared drum of similar construction. The bẹ̀mbẹ́ can be used for a range of life-cycle celebrations and in the worship of Yorùbá deities. The bẹ̀mbẹ́ is now most prevalent in Ọ̀ṣun worship in Ọ̀ṣun State. The bẹ̀m̀bẹ́...

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